“Running & Being” – Book Review

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If only you could see how worn this book became after I finished it.

I’m not sure what I was expecting when I bought this book, but whatever it was, I was surprised. I think what I wanted was a more holistic approach to running. After all, this was supposedly the book that “got the world into running.” With a title like “Running & Being” I thought for sure I would get words of wisdom for a simplistic approach to running.

It was a good book, just not was I was expecting and thus made it hard to get through. Instead of a holistic approach to running, I was greeted with the philosophy of running. It wasn’t a “how-to” guide. I should have read the back cover, it literally says the book became the “philosophical bible for runners worldwide.”

Original Cover

Despite the unexpected, I did enjoy the read, and took a few things from the book before I put it back on my shelf.

Written by George Sheehan, a cardiologist and runner himself, “Running & Being” ties Sheehan’s own philosophy to ideas from great thinkers and athletes all relating to running.

I previously started this book and this was a second attempt to finish it. I found my book mark in chapter two. Starting over, I realized why it got stuck there. The first few chapters is like a walk through and over grown forest for my mind. Cluttered, in my opinion, and hard to read through the “he said, she said quotes” by people half of which I’ve never even heard of.

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I had heard Sheehan was a great writer and all running-readers recommend this book, but I wanted HIS wisdom, not other people’s quotes, most of which were never about running in the first place. Sifting through the random stories, metaphors, quotes and creativeness, I did pull out a few take-ways that were integrated in between the philosophy.

  1. Go back to the fork (find where you went wrong or where the injury happened)
  2. Have fun and PLAY!
  3. Do the Magic 6 (3 stretches – Calves, hamstrings, lower back; and 3 strength exercises – Shins, quadriceps, and abs)
  4. Follow your own food rules (whatever works for you)
  5. Use fitness markers (like resting heart rate to monitor fitness and over-training)
  6. Most injures are due to overuse on a bad biological body (i.e. get your form evaluated and corrected with proper shoes)
  7. Create a running ditty bag (for races)
  8. Let it all hangout! (Wear your feelings on your sleeve while running)
  9. Learn when to kick and never look back!
  10. Become one with your run and embrace the loneliness of a long-distance runner.

The major thing I pulled away from this book was Sheehan’s comparison of running to religion. This is relatable to me as I am not a church going person but still believe something must be out there. He makes sure to say that running is not meant to be a replacement for a God but more a supplement or a way to express your beliefs. It would be a way to relate to the world and show your appreciation for the Earth.

Is the book worth the read? Depends on your mood and reading style. If you read a lot and are looking for a philosophy on running, read away! If you don’t read much and may get lost in descriptive writing, put this book back on the shelf. Will I read it again? Probably not, but I will definitely remember my takeaways.

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I leave you with this, my favorite quote from the book, referring to the idea of “play:”

“Run only if you must. If running is an imperative that comes from inside you and not from your doctor. Otherwise, head the inner calling in your own Play. Listen if you can to the person you were and are and can be. Then do what you do best and feel best at. Something you would do for nothing. Something that gives you security and self-acceptance and a feeling of completion; even with moments when you are fused with your universe and your Creator. When you find it, build your life around it.”

About George Sheehan

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6 thoughts on ““Running & Being” – Book Review

  1. I just found your blog through Heather Balogh’s comments, and I’m so excited to follow another local Colorado runner! I just moved to Colorado two years ago and don’t know a lot about the running/racing scene yet.

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